Solidarity Center Turns 20!

Solidarity Center Turns 20!

Evangelina Argüeta Chinchilla, Angel Miguel Conde Tapia, Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau, Rep. Karen Bass and Leonila Murillo celebrating the organization’s 20th Anniversary.

AFL-CIO, Liz Shuler, Sander Levin, Solidarity Center, human rights

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and Rep. Sander Levin.

Rep. Karen Bass, Solidarity Center, human rights

Rep. Karen Bass (right) celebrates Solidarity Center honorees Eva Argueta, Miguel Conde, and Leonila Murillo.

Shawna Bader-Blau, Solidarity Center, human rights

SC 20th Event.SBB.Leonila Murillo.11.15.17.Imagine Photography

Solidarity Center, UAW

UAW’s Darius Sivin and David Yang, former deputy assistant Administrator in USAID Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance

Kevin Collins from Amalgamated Bank, a top Solidarity Center sponsor

UFCW, Solidarity Center, Shawna Bader-Blau

Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau and Randy Parraz of the UFCW, a top Solidarity Center sponsor

Cathy Feingold, AFL-CIO, Lisa McGowan, Solidarity Center, gender equality

AFL-CIO International Director Cathy Feingold and Lisa McGowan, Solidarity Center

AFT, Solidarity Center

Representatives of AFT, a Solidarity Center event sponsor.

Ironworkers,Ullico, Solidarity Center

Ed Smith of Ullico, a generous Solidarity Center sponsor; Bernie Evers, president of the Ironworkers, a top Solidarity Center sponsor; Bama Athreya from USAID and David Yang, former deputy assistant Administrator in USAID Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance

Representatives from Ullico, a generous Solidarity Center sponsor.

Solidarity Center Legal Director .Jeff Vogt, U.S. Senate staff Thomas Richards, Mark Mittelhauser, associate deputy undersecretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Labor Department Bureau of International Labor Affairs and Carol Pier, former deputy undersecretary for international affairs at U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs

Solidarity Center

AFGE Vice President Dan Doyle, Liz Cattaneo from Jobs with Justice and Gregg James, AFGE vice president

CWA, Solidarity Center

Representatives from CWA, one of many Solidarity Center sponsors

Solidarity Center

Joe Gleason and Steve Moody

Solidarity Center

Solidarity Center

Sarah Fox, former representative of the U.S. State Department and Barbara Shailor, former representative of the U.S. Labor Department

Ford Foundation, Solidarity Center

Chris Neff, executive assistant to AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and Laine Alston Romero of the Ford Foundation

InterAction, Solidarity Center

Sam Worthington from InterAction and Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau

Solidarity Center

Harry Kamberis, Barbara Haig and Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau

Solidarity Center

Former Solidarity Center Acting Director Nancy Mills

Solidarity Center

AFL-CIO, Liz Shuler, Tefere Gebre

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre

Former AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt-Baker and Solidarity Center Organizational and Leadership Development Director Al Davidoff

Scott Nova, Solidarity Center, Worker Rights Consortium

Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau and Worker Rights Consortium Director Scott Nova

Solidarity Center

Mark Hankin, formerly of the Solidarity Center, and NED President Carl Gershman

Harry Kamberis, Cathy Feingold, AFL-CIO, Sander Levin, Shawna Bader-Blau

Founding Solidarity Center Executive Director Harry Kamberis, AFL-CIO International Director Cathy Feingold, Rep. Sander Levin and Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau

Solidarity Center

Solidarity Center staff Paata Beltadze (Georgia), Olena Mykhalchenko, Labor Initiatives (Ukraine), Tatyana Solodovnyk (Ukraine) and Guranda Ghoghoberidze (Georgia).

Solidarity Center, Shawna Bader-Blau

Solidarity Center, Lisa McGowan

Solidarity Center

Solidarity Center

Solidarity Center

AFT, Solidarity Center

Solidarity Center

Sarah MacKenzie, director of Solidarity Center Trade Union Strengthening, Ann Hanin, and Elly Kugler of NDWA

Solidarity Center

Solidarity Center: 20 Years Working for Worker Rights

Solidarity Center: 20 Years Working for Worker Rights

Over the past 20 years, the Solidarity Center has helped eliminate child labor in Liberian rubber plantations; assisted Iraqi trade unions in passing an unprecedented labor law that addresses sexual discrimination at work; campaigned to end workplace-based racism against Afro-Brazilians; and enabled the Burmese labor movement to flourish in a newly democratic Myanmar.

Over the past 20 years, the Solidarity Center has enabled workers like those in Bangladesh garment factories to achieve safer working conditions through thousands of occupational safety programs. With support and training for union organizers, the Solidarity Center has assisted union leaders like those in Georgia empower workers in a wide range of industries to achieve collective bargaining.

Over the past 20 years, the Solidarity Center has helped migrant workers in Moldova and other countries learn about their rights at work while seeking to prevent human trafficking. With a focus on achieving gender equality in the workplace, Solidarity Center programs have trained women workers to take leading roles at their workplaces, in their unions and in their communities.

Over the past 20 years, the Solidarity Center has consistently fought for worker rights—and over the next 20 years, we will expand our work to enable workers to assert their fundamental rights at work and build a better future for workers around the world. Here are a few highlights.


In Bangladesh, the Solidarity Center jump-started the process to eradicate child labor from the garment industry, laid the groundwork that nurtured young women leaders at major unions and associations, wrote the first labor law for export-processing zones and is a catalyst to the current resurgence in helping workers form unions.

A Bangladesh garment worker is among tens of thousands of union members who can bargain for rights at work with their unions, with Solidarity Center assistance. Credit: Solidarity Center


As part of worldwide campaign to enshrine labor rights for domestic workers, the Solidarity Center joined other global advocates in pushing for passage of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Domestic Workers Convention 189. Passed in 2011, Convention 189 marked a major milestone, signaling recognition that the 53 million mostly women workers who labor in households, often in isolation and at risk of exploitation and abuse, deserve full protection of labor laws.

domestic workers, ILO convention

Passage of the ILO convention on domestic workers’ rights at work culminated a multiyear effort by the Solidarity Center and allied organizations. Credit: Equal Times/JP-Pouteau


The Solidarity Center was among the first organizations to support Iraq’s blossoming trade union movement and has consistently partnered with the Iraqi labor movement since 2004. It has carried out skills-building programs with dozens of unions and hundreds of their members in every province of the country, and helped Iraqi unions coalesce around and draft a labor law, passed in 2015, that provides for collective bargaining, further limits child labor, improves rights for migrant workers and is the country’s first legislation to address sexual harassment at work.

Iraq, women, labor law, unions, Solidarity Center

In May Day rallies and at other public events, Iraqi workers, with support from the Solidarity Center, pushed for passage of a expansive labor law. Credit: GFITU


Solidarity Center training and support of the Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia (FAWUL) laid the groundwork for a landmark collective bargaining agreement in 2008 that eliminated child labor at the Firestone rubber plantation by addressing exploitative wages and workers’ impossible quotas. With Solidarity Center legal support, Liberian union members advocated for the 2015 passage of the Decent Work law, and key provisions, including a minimum wage for informal workers, job safety and health, and workers compensation.

Liberia, student, 17 year old girl, Firestone Junior High, Solidarity Center

Sorbor S. Tarnue, 17, attends school at the Firestone rubber plantation because her parents’ union, FAWUL, a Solidarity Center ally, negotiated a reduction in the high daily production quota of latex. Parents had been forced to bring their children to work to meet the high quotas.


The Georgian union movement withstood deep attacks on worker rights throughout the 2004–2013 regime of Mikheil Saakashvili. With consistent backing from the Solidarity Center, the Georgia Trade Union Confederation (GTUC) tapped into international mechanisms to protect worker rights, and unions fought back against a broad array of union-busting tactics instigated by the government. Now Solidarity Center programs are enabling Georgian workers to form unions in metal factories, coal mines, schools and hospitals and, through the three-year, “Strengthening Worker Organizations in Georgia,” program, helping transit and other workers address critical safety and health issues at work.

Republic of Georgia, metro technician, unions, Solidarity Center

At the Gldani Metro Depot in Tbilisi, Georgia, the Metro Workers’ Trade Union of Georgia is addressing safety issues through collective bargaining. Credit: Solidarity Center/Lela Mepharishvili


The Solidarity Center’s nearly 30-year support of exiled leaders of the Federation of Trade Unions–Burma following a brutal crackdown by Burma’s military junta, enabled the union movement to return in 2012 to Myanmar. Today, the Confederation of Trade Unions–Myanmar has now helped more than 60,000 workers form unions.

Myanmar, rice farmers, Solidarity Center, worker rights

Farmers across Myanmar are the fastest growing group of workers forming unions since 2011, when a new law allowed creation of unions. Credit: Solidarity Center/Tula Connell


In Colombia, the Solidarity Center helped workers form the national port workers’ union and provides ongoing support for the union’s worker organizing efforts in a sector that is rife with rights violations. The union now has affiliated more than 10,000 workers and negotiated three collective bargaining agreements—the sector’s only contracts in the past 25 years. These contracts have improved wages and labor conditions for some 2,000 workers, the majority of whom are of Afro-Colombian descent.

Colombia, port workers, Solidarity Center, unions, human rights

With Solidarity Center support, more than 10,000 Colombia port workers have a voice at work through a union. Credit: Solidarity Center/Rhett Doumitt


In Bahrain, the Solidarity Center played a key role in international efforts, and through a bilateral trade agreement, to defend the local activism of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions, which advocated to protect workers from arbitrary dismissal and discrimination in the wake of the Arab uprising.

Bahrain, Solidarity Center

Fired Bahraini women protest in front of Bahrain Labor Ministry. Photo: Kate Conradt


Over the past 20 years, the Solidarity Center has helped unions move beyond xenophobia to embrace migrant workers in their unions in the construction sector in the Dominican Republic; persuaded policymakers globally to eliminate onerous recruitment fees for migrant workers, which often result in debt bondage; connected unions in South Asia with unions in the Middle East to facilitate protection of South Asian migrant worker rights; and provided migrant farm workers in South Africa with increased access to justice for nonpayment of wages and discrimination in the workplace.

Construction workers in Dominican Republic, many of Haitian descent, now have a voice at work through their union. Credit: Solidarity Center/Ricardo Rojas


The Solidarity Center, together with the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, worked in Brazil with the Inter-American Union Institute for Racial Equality (INSPIR) for the past 20 years to help eliminate racism against Afro-descendants in the workplace and throughout society.

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